Tiny illuminated manuscript Book of Hours leaf, c. 1460


Mercy, and truth have met each other: Justice and Peace have kissed”.


Recto:  14 lines of text in Latin written on vellum in a gothic script. Four one-line illuminated initials alternating in blue with red penwork and gold with black penwork.


Verso:  As Recto with a further four one-line illuminated initials.


Origin:  Northern France/Flanders


Date:  c.1460


Content:  The text is from the Office of Our Blessed Lady at Prime.  The text on both Recto and Verso is a section of Psalm 84 (KJV 85). Beginning at the blue initial on the second line the text reads:  Converte nos Deus saluturis noster: et averte iram tuam a nobis.  Numquid in aeternum irasceris nobis: aut extendes iram tuam a generatione in generationem  Deus tu conversus vivificabis nos: et plebs tua laetabitur in te.  Ostende nobis Domine misericordiam tuam.

(Convert us o God our saviour: and avert thy wrath from us.  Wilt thou be wroth with us for ever: or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation? O God thou being turned shalt quicken us: and thy people shall rejoice in thee.  Show us O Lord thy mercy: and give us thy salvation.


The psalm continues on Verso: 

I will hear what our Lord God will speak in me: because he will speak peace unto his people.  And upon his saints: and upon them, that are converted to the heart.  But yet his salvation is nigh to them that fear him: that glory may inhabit in our land.  Mercy, and truth have met each other: Justice and Peace have kissed.


Condition:  This leaf is in very good condition on clean vellum apart from two marks from an old mounting in the top  margin, which are masked off by the mat.  The gold of some initials is rubbed.  It is unconditionally guaranteed genuine. 


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 90x70 mm. Text & illuminated area: approx. 50x35 mm.  Presented in a museum quality mat, ready to frame. Please note that packing/postage is invoiced separately.  Australia: $20.00.  Overseas, ask for quote.  


Notes:  Books of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity who wished to emulate the cycle of daily devotions followed by the clergy.  The Book of Hours is modelled on the Divine Office - the prayers and readings performed by members of religious orders. Its central text is the Hours of the Virgin. There are eight Hours (times for prayer): Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.

The extremely small size of this leaf can be explained thus:  Medieval piety involved substantial elements of public display, and the small but emergent urban bourgeoisie, mostly merchants or administrators in the growing royal bureaucracies, naturally sought to imitate their superiors.  So it is not surprising that the Book of Hours became something of a chic devotional accessory, especially for women, an incongruity that occasionally attracted disapproving comment. Eustache Deschamps, the great French poet of the late 14th century, put his satire into verse when he imagined the thoughts of a bourgeois wife who yearns for a Book of Hours that  "is as graceful and gorgeous as me... So the people will gasp when I use it, That's the prettiest prayer-book in town.”

Item No:  MBH100

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